Celtic travel to Stair Park today for the Scottish Cup Fourth Round tie with Stranraer. The game might offer Ronny Deila the chance to field some players lacking game time so far this season but he won’t be taking this game lightly.
This match is key to maintaining Celtic’s treble hopes, so a strong team will be put out. With injuries and suspensions though, a few changes are on the cards.
Craig Gordon and Nadir Çiftç are both suspended for this game so the expected starters will be Logan Bailly and Leigh Griffiths. Efe Ambrose is likely to step in for the injured Dedryck Boyata and partner Jozo Šimunović in the heart of the defence, flanked by captain Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney though there is every possibility we may see Emilio Izaguirre in this match.
It’s in the midfield where there is the opportunity for change today. Deila might take the opportunity to mix things up a little against smaller opposition.
There is an element of risk but freshening things up might be good. Scott Allan and Gary Mackay-Steven will be looking for more game time as will James Forrest particularly with Stuart Armstrong being added to the injury list.
Callum McGregor has been seen more recently and I would expect that to continue. The question is do you drop experienced players such as Nir Bitton and Stefan Johansen for such an important fixture?
Also on my mind is playing two up front in this game. Carlton Cole is waiting in the wings and so is young Aidan Nesbitt.
Ronny Deila is not keen on the idea of two strikers but adapting your tactics should be in your locker. I’m fairly certain that some games deserve a partnership in attack.
Instead we’ve seen Tom Rogić, Kris Commons and less recently, Stefan Johansen, play an attacking midfield role. Perhaps there is room to accommodate Nesbitt in there today.
However Ronny decides to set up today, there needs to be focus throughout the team from back to front. I’m always a little bit nervous when changing keepers, particularly when you’ve seen little of the replacement.
An unsettled defence doesn’t help matters either. Whilst Šimunović has brought a degree of calm to things, I’m not 100% about Ambrose or even Boyata.
A win is all that is needed today. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just no errors.